Every time I use the word ham when discussing the family dinner menu, Hubby says the same thing, ‘But you don’t like ham.’ Every time.
You see, once upon a time, when we were simply enamored with each other instead of in wedded bliss, I probably chose beef instead of ham at some gathering. And my man, he has a good memory. He remembers that porcine slight and has morphed it into a dislike of the dish instead of just a second preference.
It’s a bit like the mountains vs. the beach. Give me a choice and I’ll pick the mountains every time. That doesn’t mean I dislike the beach. Yes, if asked to choose whether I’d like to spend time hiking trails alongside waterfalls, gazing at purple mountain vistas from a cabin porch with a hot cup of coffee in my hand, or the opportunity to go where every crack and crevice on your body gets filled with sand, where your skin fries lobster red after mere minutes while your feet scorch on the sun-heated ground, I wouldn’t hesitate very long to make my decision.
But, seriously, it doesn’t mean I don’t like the ocean. (Really, I do.) It just means I like the mountains more.
The thing is, there are times when I am at the beach and the waves are just the perfect size for splashing around without getting tumbled like a sock in the dryer. Times when the sun warms your shoulders but a gentle breeze keeps you cool. Times when the most amazing shells, worn glass and other-worldly creatures have been deposited upon the sand, which does you a favor and mainly stays on the ground where it belongs instead of in your suit. At those times, the beach is delightful and you can’t imagine being anywhere else.
Ham is exactly the same.
If put side by side, a slice of ham, no matter how it’s cooked, stands no chance against a perfectly seared medium-rare steak. But, when the planets are in alignment and a ham has been baked by a professional ham-baker, it can be absolutely delicious.
Part of my ham problem is that I haven’t had a whole lot of success with it, eating it or making it. It could be because I don’t cook it very often. To date, in order to do it right, I’ve monopolized my oven with a behemoth hunk of meat and then have 8+ pounds of leftovers to use creatively. Plus, I’m not fond of the real sugary sweet glazes and prefer a little bit of bite with any pork dish.
This ham got on our menu because there were two things that attracted me to the recipe.
First, the ham spends its day in a slow cooker, which frees up the oven for other things (like Scalloped Potatoes). Since the main direction is to leave it alone for six-plus hours, it’s about as low maintenance as you can get.
Second, the ham cooks in pomegranate juice, which is not sweet. That makes me happy. The glaze that goes on the ham during the last thirty minutes of cooking is made with red currant jelly, also not overly sweet. Double the happy.
As far as the ‘shiny and glazed’ look that the ham is supposed to develop from 30 minutes of basting with the glaze, it didn’t ever really get to that point with my ham. I think that while the crock pot is fantastic for slow cooking the meat to a tender and juicy finish, it isn’t conducive to bringing a glaze to a nice, sticky shine. It’s hot in there, but it’s a wet heat, not a dry one.
I may not make ham in any other way again. Dudette’s first word after tasting this was, ‘Delicious!’ Emphatically so. She even ate two slices. Hubby felt the same way. Cooking the ham in the pomegranate juice infused it with flavor so even though the glaze wasn’t as glazey as I hoped, enough did stick to the outside, the pomegranate juice had worked its way in and it was absolutely delicious.
I can’t wait for Easter..
What I’d Do Different Next Time
Since the glaze never turned nice and gooey, I think when it’s time for it, I’d remove the ham from the slow cooker brush on the glaze and put the whole thing under the broiler for a brief minute. I’d watch it really, really closely though.
- 1 small bone-in half ham (about 6 lb.)
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- ½ cup red currant jelly
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
- Place ham in slow cooker, pour in pomegranate juice, cover and cook on low until completely warmed through, 4 to 6 hours, basting once or twice. Put jelly in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring, until softened. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids. Cover and refrigerate jelly until ready to use.
- In a small saucepan, combine 3 Tbsp. of cooking liquid from slow cooker with jelly, mustard and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove 1 cup of cooking liquid from slow cooker; discard. Pour jelly mixture over ham. Cover cooker and increase heat to high. Cook for about 30 minutes, basting often, until shiny and glazed. Transfer ham to a platter and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes; serve.
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